Gardeners everywhere are at the mercy of the climates in which they live; they depend on their weather for their heat and sunlight; they are bound by the seasons as to the flowers and vegetables they can grow; and when the snow and frost come, they are confined to a few hardy standbys and some house plants. But climates are not the problem for greenhouse gardeners who garden in a controlled environment where temperature levels are constant, humidity and ventilation are provided, and with artificial lighting, even day length can be controlled.
Below are some useful information about the key elements and techniques of greenhouse gardening we willingly provide to our readers.
# Good Growing Soil
Most greenhouse gardeners grow their plants in containers which can be moved around easily and dealt with on an individual basis. This kind of gardening requires large amounts of lightweight potting soil.
Some gardeners choose the commercially packaged potting mixes. But some make up their own potting mixes. This way they can handle their plants’ needs on an individual basis by altering their basic mix slightly.
A good potting soil should contain ample nutrients for healthy plant growth; it should be easy for roots to penetrate and it should drain well, yet retain sufficient moisture to keep the plant from wilting. A popular basic mix consists of good garden soil (2 parts), sharp river sand (1 part), and peat moss or other form of organic matter (1 part). Some gardeners add bone meal or complete fertilizers. To grow plants that prefer an acid soil, such as azaleas or camellias, use a mix that contains at least 50 percent organic matter (peat moss, leaf mold, or finely ground bark). Never use a clay soil in a container mix.
# Right Amount of Water
Providing water for your plants is one of the most important duties you will perform. Plants need water to survive, but just the right amount — too much water can be as damaging as too little water.
Most greenhouse gardeners water with a hose or a large watering can. Whichever method you use, a spray or misty nozzle is recommended because it breaks the force of the water. A strong jet of water from a hose can gouge a hole in the soil and expose plant roots.
The water itself should be at room temperature. Cold water can severely damage plants and foliage. Let your hose run for a few minutes until the water has warmed up. If providing warm water directly is impossible, keep a large container — a plastic garbage can or a barrel — filled for your daily watering. Be sure to keep this container covered when not in use, as it could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes or flies. Never use softened water on your plants. Most outdoor faucets are not attached to the water softener and can be safely tapped.
Some greenhouse gardeners use a drip irrigation system. These systems allow you to water many plants at the same time and can be effective if a large number of your plants have the same watering needs. The majority of greenhouse gardeners still water each plant individually. This is probably the safest way to water, especially if you grow many different kinds of plants, for that way each plant will be given individual attention and hopefully will be watered properly.
* This is PART ONE of a two-part article. PART TWO will be published on Thursday afternoon.
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